Chinese police rush to dispel rumours of more attacks in wake of Kunming massacre
Wild rumours of more planned attacks in other parts of China circulated via Weibo, WeChat before being dismissed by police.
Unsourced accounts of violent attacks against civilians in major cities, some with photos of “suspects” resembling Uygurs being questioned by the police, have cropped up on China’s social media after the brutal Kunming railway station massacre on Saturday, which left 33 dead.
Many of the accounts on Weibo were widely circulated by Chinese bloggers, who said they were reeling from grief and fear, before police dismissed the posts as “rumours”.
One Weibo post claimed that in Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan, the authorities had stopped a car that had been travelling without a license plate on the city’s second ring road.
“Police detained four Uygur-looking men likely to be terrorists, and confiscated two machetes and other illegal weapons,” it read.
Photos published along with the post showed officers wearing “Chengdu Police” uniforms talking to men who looked like Uygurs on a local street.
Another widely circulated Weibo post alleged that three knife-wielding men, who spoke with an “ethnic accent”, were attacking people in an alley near the Sichuan University campus in the city.
Chengdu police, however, denied the incident had ever taken place in a statement posted online on Monday.
“It’s unforgivable that people would make up stories like these… as if they want more chaos,” commented Yi Yi, a Chengdu resident.
A further Weibo post, later also dismissed as “rumour” by police, said “two terrorists from Xinjiang” had been arrested at Gaoqi International Airport in the coastal city of Xiamen, in the southeastern province of Fujian.
Police said similar online accounts of arrests at Kunming’s Changshui International Airport were also untrue.
Many of these false accounts had been taken down from Sina Weibo on Tuesday.
Local police and media have responded quickly by issuing statements on social media condemning the rumours and cautioning the public against “irresponsible reposting”.
In such a statement published on its official Weibo page on Monday, The Guangdong Provincial Security Department asked bloggers to stop “blindly reposting messages to create panic,” and to avoid being “used by enemies”.